There wasn’t any one event that made us leave India early. There was no tragic event, no-one was unkind, we didn’t get robbed or ripped off, we didn’t even get really sick. Sure, in the end, we did both have bad colds that made it that much harder to deal with, but it wasn’t like we had classic ‘Delhi Belly’ or anything like that.
No, it was just a slow build up to realizing that we just weren’t enjoying ourselves. The dirt, the garbage, the smells, the poverty, the noise, the staring, the inability to walk anywhere…all added up to us often not even wanting to leave the hotel room. We weren’t laughing and relaxing and chatting about what we were going to do next, but rather were often convincing ourselves that maybe, just maybe, the next place would be better.
It’s true, travel is not always fun and games, sunshine and white sand…but we felt that we had given it a shot and didn’t want to spend anymore of our precious time not having fun. We’re glad that we went as we would surely have regretted not going, but I’m proud of us for realizing that it wasn’t working and deciding to leave. That was always part of the plan…be flexible, stay somewhere longer if we want, leave a place early if we’re not liking it.
Although we left early, we certainly didn’t leave India without some observations and thoughts…and not all of them are bad.
The food in India is very good. We loved the curries and the breads and liked trying new meats such as goat. Having the car and driver allowed us to stop at some very small, local places where we enjoyed chai and paranthas for breakfast.
India is both clean and dirty. The insides of buildings and hotels can be very clean but they just dump all the garbage right outside…sweep it right out the front door. Shopkeepers are constantly sweeping the storefront but, when the floor is dirt, and the stoop is dirt and the street is dirt, I often wondered to what end.
There really are cows everywhere. Unfortunately most of them do not look very well and can most often be seen rooting through garbage piles for food. They are often in the middle of the road and traffic just routes around them – they don’t even appear to notice.
People in India and helpful and not-so-helpful. A lot of them would come and point out an attraction of tourist office for us…and give us completely incorrect information. At first we thought that maybe they were trying to scam us except there never seemed to be anything in it for them to give us the wrong information. I came to the conclusion that maybe they just wanted to talk to us and so seeming helpful was a way to be able to do that. More than once I ignored a persons ‘advice’ only to find that actually they were being helpful – I went out of my way to apologize when this happened as I probably seemed quite rude.
Indians are very proud of their country and their towns. We were in the Jasailmer Fort, surrounded by cows and cow shit, people begging, broken down buildings and the unmistakable stench of human sewage running in the open grate beneath our feet and our guide says to us ‘”welcome to beautiful Jasailmer Fort”…seriously, it’s like they can’t see it (or smell it).
Indians like to stare. We’ve been stared at plenty on this trip but never like it was here. It was like dropping a monkey in the middle of a shopping mall at the height of the Christmas rush…everyone staring to see what it will do and unable to take look away. I was the monkey and the staring was incessant. Sometimes I just could not believe it.
We left India shaky and unsure what we wanted to do. We knew we didn’t want to go home but wondered if continuing on our planned itinerary was still going to work for us. Should we just stop and settle in somewhere for a long time? Were we done with being on the move? Should we head to Europe or New Zealand where the culture is familiar and easier? We felt shell shocked and done with ‘hard travel’. We got on the plane and headed to Thailand planning on spending Christmas on the beach to try and figure out how to spend the next 5 months.
Within one day of being in Bangkok we realized that we had made the Best Decision Ever. We quickly relaxed, we were laughing again, and looking forward to going out to find a bite, or a drink, or to see a sight. We are ourselves again and realize that we can continue with our original itinerary but, now that we have some extra time, we’ll be able to slow it down a bit which will be nice.
And so we are currently headed to southern Thailand to work on our tans and spend the holidays on the island beaches. Best Decision Ever indeed.